Just like that…another year is in the books. 2019 was a year with job changes, job drama, and job “hustling”. I thank God that my family and my finances made it through with some gains and no devastating losses.
With the exception of a 5 day trip to the Philippines, and an 8 day trip to Atlanta, I spent 99% of my time in China. I finally got comfortable with the idea of China and Chinese culture. Things that bothered my first 3 months living here, just roll off my back now. I’m no longer surprised by dehumanizing stares, spicy food, lack of hand soap, or the random person touching my skin on the subway. What can I say, China is starting to really grow on me…sort of.
I also successfully converted my long-time girlfriend into a personal finance nerd. She’s always passively entertained my “ideas” and “dreams” of financial independence, but I always got the impression that she thought I was full of S***. I don’t know what changed, but by the end of 2019 she was tracking every expense, and actively listening to me rant about consumerism. I would say this was a huge “WIN” in our relationship!
Financially, 2019 was quite the roller coaster. Please see a summary of my Debt, Investments & Networth below:
Due to poor planning and job changes, I racked up about $6000 dollars of credit card debt. Ouch! Fortunately, I was able to pay the card off before the end of the year, but I didn’t escape the nasty 18% interest payments. This is definitively not “future millionaire” behavior and I don’t plan on making this a cycle. I don’t care what anyone says about the benefits of credit cards (travel hacking etc.), I truly believe credit cards are a trap!
On another note, My student loans decreased by about $1300 this year. This is all from making the minimum payments. Paying extra on my student loans was not a focus of 2019. Especially since I was racking up credit card debt.
Overall I finished 2019 owing less than I did at the beginning of the year. That’s always a ‘WIN’ in my book.
I currently have three different investment accounts: a brokerage account, a Traditional IRA, and a Roth IRA. They’re all invested in Exchange Traded Funds or ETFs. The specific ETFs that I purchase are VTI (Vanguard Total Stock Market Index Fund ETF), and BND (Vanguard Total Bond ETF).
My investment accounts grew for the year. The market in general did very well in 2019 and my steady index funds mirrored that. I was also able to transfer the balance (about $1500) from my previous employer’s 401k to my Vanguard account. Therefore, all of my investments are now sitting in one place (That actually sounds pretty bad when I put it in writing).
Unfortunately, I had a few months that I didn’t contribute to my investment accounts, because I wanted to prioritize paying down my high interest (18%) debt (a.k.a credit card). So far my investment accounts have averaged about 13.5% since inception (2018) and will continue to grow as I add more to them.
I like to keep a about $2000 dollars of cash on me at all times. $1000 of it is for an emergency fund and the remainder of it is kept in a checking account for miscellaneous spending. I had no desire to increase this account above $2000 dollars in 2019, but moving into 2020 I will be looking to increase these accounts to avoid going back into credit card debt.
This was a positive year for my Net-worth! It may not have grown as much as I would have liked, but this is the first year since I started college that I have a positive Net-worth. I think this is a huge step in the right direction and it should be F***ing celebrated! When I first started paying off my $40,000 student loan I never thought I would see this day, but look at me now. “Momma I made it”! I look forward to hitting more benchmarks on my journey to financial independence. See you next Decade!